Whip Rules are a hot topic in the racing industry around the world but there has been very little presented as factual data on either side of the debate. A lot of the Animal Welfare groups have presented studies and many of them contradict the other.
The use of whips in Thoroughbred racing in Australia is governed by Racing Australia’s Rules of Racing. These rules require that a specific type of whip (known as a ‘padded’ whip) is used. The rules set a limit of five whip strikes prior to the final stage of a race, but there is no limit on the number of times a horse can be struck with the whip during the last 100 metres of a race. The rules also allow horses to be slapped down the shoulder with the whip an unlimited number of times, provided the hand remains on the reins.
In recent years the racing industry has made a series of changes to the Rules of Racing with regard to whip use. The rules now ensure that both forehand and backhand strikes are now covered by the five-strike limit.
The rules allow Stewards to exercise more discretion when determining breaches of this limit as there is sometimes a need to use the whip for the safety of the horse and jockey and other horses and jockeys in the race, but still the Activists want more.
The danger in pandering to the activist groups is this, the proposals they are making are coming from the mindset that Horse Racing should be stopped. If that is their premise then their recommendations must be viewed with a high degree of skepticism by the industry.
They have no interest in improving or safeguarding the sport, their objective is to end it, therefore they should not be the arbitrator of the facts.
Left in the hands of the Activists the world would become a Vegan, Atheist, Communist Utopia, not a society in keeping with the Culture or History of any country and not a place I would choose to leave to my children.
Horse Racing is entering a crossroads, a point at which if the industry globally is not vigorously defended it could be lost forever.
Industry participants are not in the business of hurting their horses, by far the majority of horses racing are loved and well cared for, however that does not protect the industry from an onslaught of attacks from special interest political groups.
Racing is a very important part of the economy in many countries and deserves much stronger support from the politicians and media.